From penguins to philanthropy, kids prove their giving credentials
If you have young children at home you may have heard of or even played with them on Club Penguin; what you may not know is the staggering amount of ‘money’ raised by participating children on the online game club to give to charity.
Capturing a growing trend, Club Penguin, a popular online club for primary school-aged children, and owned by Walt Disney Co., ran a competition in which more than 2.5m kids gave their virtual earnings to charities.
The site held a 10-day "Coins for Change" campaign ending on Christmas Eve in which users donated in some cases as many as 1,500 coins to charities. Walt Disney Co., then divided US$1m real dollars among the charities selected by the participants - the Elizabeth Glaser Pediatric AIDS Foundation, the World Wildlife Fund and Free the Children.
The trend is evidently on the rise in both the US and UK with the 2007 Bank of America and the Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University’s Study of High Net-Worth Philanthropy: Portraits of Donors finding that involving children and grandchildren in philanthropy is a major priority for "dynasty" households, in which fortunes are passed through generations.
The accessibility of going online has influenced the trend with ‘gift cards’ from sites such as GlobalGiving.com being used by families to find charitable projects and make donations.
In the UK there is G-Nation.org.uk aimed at schools with an online TV programme GNTV and the GN awards.
Foundations are also picking up on the trend in both the UK and US with the Community Foundation for Northern Ireland (CFNI) and Irish Youth Foundation (IYF) working with the Ulster Bank Group to ensure the ongoing success of YouthBank, an all-island initiative which allows young people to assess needs in their locality and provide financial support through grants to deserving projects.
For the first time in the US, the Washington-based Carl M. Freeman Foundation included two teenagers last year on its grant-making board, which decides which projects to fund.
In September 2007 the Institute for Philanthropy, in partnership with the Toskan Casale Foundation, launched the UK pilot of the Youth & Philanthropy Initiative in 10 London secondary schools, in response to the success of the programme in Canada.
And, in predicting this generational shift, Philanthropy UK wrote about the giving trends of young people in the Summer 2006 supplement of the Philanthropy UK Newsletter.
So the next time your children want to go online, check which sites they are searching - they may surprise you with their philanthropic initiative.